GASHI’s upcoming project, ‘Brooklyn Cowboy’, showcases his newfound voice and explores his chosen American identity. With the album due next month, we spoke to the “Trap Phil Collins” about his creative process and best performance memories…

What five words define your sound?

Raw, powerful, timeless, gumbo and Johnny Cash – is that a word?

Tell me something unique about your creative process.

I’ve never purposefully sat down to write a specific song, rather, it’s the universe sending it down to me. I do one take of how I’m feeling and the song is the song.

Which song of yours would you like people to hear first?

‘Brooklyn Cowboy’ off my new album ‘Brooklyn Cowboy’. But if you’re listening to the old stuff, then it’s gotta be ‘Mama’ featuring Sting. 

What inspired you to make that song?

I wrote ‘Mama’ in 2015 and didn’t release it until 2020. I remember my mother telling me, “you better slow down and watch how you speak to people and watch what you do, because it’s all going to catch up to you.” And it definitely caught up to me. That song is me telling my mom, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” She was right, you know? ‘Brooklyn Cowboy’ is me talking about how everything I ever dreamed about in the past was overrated. I received everything I wanted at the time, but dreams change and I have new ones now.

What’s the most vulnerable you’ve allowed yourself to be when writing/making music?

I was the most vulnerable I’ve ever been when I was making my new album ‘Brooklyn Cowboy’. I let judgment out the window and recorded exactly what I was feeling at the time, which I’ve never done before. I’m still slowly getting comfortable with myself and as I do that, you’ll hear it in my songs and in my voice. The most vulnerable I’ve ever been outside of the writing process was in 2022 when I fell in love with an interior designer. It’s funny how similar those two experiences felt.

What’s the best experience you’ve had on stage?

The best experience I’ve ever had on stage was the first time I was able to go back to my homeland and perform in Kosovo. It was a really special moment for me to be back there, since I hadn’t been back since the war. I got to perform in front of all my incredible people. Plus it was awesome that Dua Lipa asked for me to be the headliner of her festival.

What is your favourite song to perform?

My favourite song to perform is a song called ‘Cold’ off my new album ‘Brooklyn Cowboy’.

Which artist/song/album made you want to make music?

This is an impossible question because I can’t pick just one. I feel like so many artists have inspired me to be the artist I am, so I have to name all of them I can think of, sorry. Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’, ‘808’s & Heartbreak’ and ‘Yeezus’. Jay-Z, DMX, Lauryn Hill, specifically the ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, which made me fall in love with albums, Pharrell, Depeche Mode made me want to make 80s music, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Madonna and David Bowie are the reason I try to make a completely new sound every time I make an album. It’s important for me to always be creating something new, and Madonna is one of my biggest inspirations. Oh, and Elton John is my dad.

What’s the meaning behind your name?

My birth name is ‘Labinot,’ middle name is ‘Larry,’ last name is ‘Gashi.’ ‘Gashi’ means health and happiness and I got the name ‘Larry’ when I became an American citizen. I never used to love my name as much as I do now, but I’m really starting to love it.

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing instead?

If I wasn’t making music, I’d be doing interior design, shooting films, or trying to make it in the fashion world.

What’s success to you?

Success is waking up everyday and not having to do anything you don’t want to do.

What moment in your life/career forced you to change direction?

When I saw Chris Stapleton live. His National Anthem performance at the Super Bowl made me cry, and I just really appreciate artists who continue to climb to their peak in their 30s and 40s. He’s so awesome and I wanted to do what he was doing, so I changed direction.

Where can people keep in touch with you?

People can keep in touch with me on Instagram. I don’t use any other platform much. I feel like I’m able to have some kind of control on Instagram, and connect with my fans at the same time. @gashi.

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